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22 Mar, Wednesday
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Montreal Families

Vanier nursery promotes learning in young children

Vanier College is one of many CEGEPs in the province offering programs for future educators. But its Early Childhood Education (ECE) Laboratory Nursery is an educator-training facility that also has a practical learning component. It is one of a very few ECE programs in Canada that has an observational lab nursery for children between the ages of 2 ½ and 5.

Fiona Rowlands, the faculty lab educator at Vanier College, says that the nursery was created to provide students with the opportunity to observe best practices in action, and discuss observations with teachers and fellow students. The students in the program gain practical experience by leading activities with support from the nursery educators and their teachers.  This opportunity helps prepare students and build confidence for when they go into their practical field experiences.

There are two experienced educators for up to a maximum of 12 children. This ratio allows the educators to develop relationships with all the children and ensure that all children’s developmental needs are being met and to promote individual learning. The educators get to know each child and help him or her with specific needs.  “For example, if a child may need support developing spatial awareness, we would plan activities that would help the child develop this in a fun way,” Rowlands says.

She also explains that by catering to the individuals, the educators are able to help them develop social skills to interact with others. Children are regularly asked what they want to do, allowing them to take initiative while also participating in group activities. Some of these include music and movement and even castle-building using cardboard boxes and real tools such as saws.

Rowlands says that because children begin to develop their social skills and understanding of interpersonal relationships at a young age, it is important for them to be in a supportive and engaging environment in which they can safely learn, acquire competencies, and grow.

The program’s vision was inspired by a number of theorists, whose philosophies encourage a learning style that promotes a relationship between a young child and adults, engagement on their own terms, and an emphasis on a child’s sense of self. Some of the theorists include Jean Piaget, Erik Erikson and Mary Ainsworth.

The nursery costs $600 and operates from September to May, four mornings a week from 9 a.m. to noon. A group size is between 10-12 children with two early childhood educators.

If you are interested in having your child enrolled in the nursery, visit www.vaniercollege.qc.ca/early-childhood-education/lab-nursery.

Parents can also contact Fiona Rowlands at rowlandf@vaniercollege.qc.ca or by phone at 514-744-7500 ext. 7705

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